Recent observations in Greenland and Antarctica have suggested that changes in the oceans are probably more significant than atmospheric changes in driving changes in these ice sheets. This is clearly demonstrated around Antarctica where a few distinct valleys on the continental shelf – the seafloor near the continent – provide routes for warm water to move from the deep open ocean towards the ice sheet. These troughs coincide with the most rapidly thinning portions for the ice sheet. Ice2sea’s use of state-of-the-art ocean models to determine the likely impact of future ocean climate change on the ice sheets relies heavily on an accurate description of the seabed bathymetry around Antarctica – and current maps are completely inadequate for these purposes. Timmerman et al. have generated a new global seabed bathymetry to meet the requirements of ocean modellers, drawing on new and unpublished data collected by several nations. The resulting digital bathymetry will be the foundation of ice2sea’s ocean modelling efforts, and is here presented to the wider community so that it can be used not only for ocean modelling but also palaeo-ice-sheet and general oceanographic studies.
Ice2sea Work Package: WP4.3
Publication: Timmerman, R., et al. (2010), A consistent dataset of Antarctic ice sheet topography, cavity geometry, and global bathymetry, Earth System Science Data Discuss., 3, 231-257.